Jessica Claire Timberlake (née Biel; born March 3, 1982) is an American actress. Biel began her career as a vocalist appearing in musical productions until she was cast as Mary Camden in the family-drama series 7th Heaven, for which she achieved recognition. The series is the longest-running series that ever aired on The WB channel and is the longest-running family drama in television history.
In 1997, she won the Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Young Actress for her role in Ulee’s Gold. Biel has since starred in many films, including The Rules of Attraction (2002), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Blade: Trinity (2004), Stealth (2005), I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007), The A-Team (2010) and Total Recall (2012).
Biel landed her first feature film role as Peter Fonda’s granddaughter in the critically acclaimed drama Ulee’s Gold, released in 1997. Her performance earned her a Young Artist Award. In spring 1998, during a break from filming 7th Heaven, she starred in I’ll Be Home for Christmas, playing the love interest of Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
Biel posed topless in the March 2000 issue of Gear, when she was 17 years old. Producers of 7th Heaven were outraged, and brought legal action against Gear. In 2001, Biel played the love interest of Freddie Prinze, Jr. in the baseball-themed film Summer Catch. In 2002, she starred as promiscuous college student Lara in the ensemble film The Rules of Attraction, an adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel. The movie received mixed reviews, became a box office hit and has since gained a cult following.
Biel was cast in her first top-billing role in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Although the film met with negative reviews, it was a commercial success, scoring the number-one spot in its opening week and going on to earn more than $80 million in the U.S. In 2003, Biel began work on the third installment of the Blade film series, Blade: Trinity. Despite negative reviews of the installment, it was a box-office hit grossing $150 million worldwide. Almost immediately after finishing it in 2004, she headed to Australia to shoot the action-thriller Stealth.
Biel also appeared in the 2004 film Cellular. She was cast in the role of Ellen Kishmore in the romantic comedy Elizabethtown. She then played the title character in the indie film London. In 2005, Esquire magazine named her the “Sexiest Woman Alive” in a 2005 six-part series, with each month revealing a different body part and clue to the woman’s identity.
In 2006, Biel played a turn-of-the-century duchess in the period piece The Illusionist, co-starring Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti. Biel played an Iraq War veteran in the 2006 film Home of the Brave, a drama about soldiers struggling to readjust to society after facing the hardships of war. In Next, Biel played alongside Nicolas Cage and Julianne Moore. She then played in the summer comedy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, co-starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James. In late 2007, Biel signed on to play a stripper in Powder Blue, alongside Forest Whitaker (who also produced the film), Ray Liotta and Patrick Swayze. In 2007, Stuff magazine’s named her No. 1 on their “100 Sexiest Women”.
At the start of 2008, Biel shot Easy Virtue, an adaptation of the play by Noël Coward. Like the play, the film is set in the 1920s and Biel plays young widow Larita. Larita impulsively marries John Whittaker in France and must face her disapproving in-laws on returning to England. The film premiered in September 2008 at the Toronto International Film Festival. Critics praised Biel for her performance, with Todd McCarthy of Variety saying Biel “more than kept up” with veterans Kristin Scott Thomas and Colin Firth and praising her “sparkling” performance. The Hollywood Reporter described her performance as “an irresistible force of nature — a kind, witty, supremely intelligent and beautiful woman who … is capable of rejoinders that thoroughly undercut her opponent’s withering criticism.” Biel also performed two songs on the film’s soundtrack, “Mad About the Boy” and “When the Going Gets Tough”.
Biel at the 81st Academy Awards
In 2009, Biel lent her voice to the animated science fiction film Planet 51. In April 2008, Biel began working on the political satire Nailed, with Jake Gyllenhaal. The film centers around a woman who accidentally gets a nail lodged in her head, then travels to Washington, D.C. to fight for better health care. Biel performed the role of Sarah Brown with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a fully staged concert production of Guys and Dolls during the 2009 season at the Hollywood Bowl. On the last night, she received a rousing standing ovation from 17,000 people. She subsequently landed a part in Lincoln Center Theater’s two-week-long workshop of the musical version of the Pedro Almodóvar classic Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, along with Salma Hayek.
In 2010, Biel starred in the large ensemble cast film Valentine’s Day and in the A-Team, based on the television series as Capt. Charissa Sosa. In 2011, she appeared in New Year’s Eve, directed by Valentine’s Day’s Garry Marshall. In 2012, she starred in the remake of the 1990 science fiction movie Total Recall alongside Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale. She portrayed actress Vera Miles in the biographical film Hitchcock, based on Stephen Rebello’s book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. She also appeared in Playing for Keeps with Gerard Butler. Biel starred in the thriller film Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013.